My Saigon Love Story, Kind Of

"My heart feels like it's going to explode," I said."Oh, really?"

He leans over from across the table and places his hand on my chest. At that very moment, I felt like my heart was going to burst open.

He smiled at me and sat back down. "You're getting red," he claimed. Indeed, I was. I was embarrassed. Being around him makes me feel all sorts of anxiety. But whether it's the Vietnamese coffee or not, my heart always beats just a little faster whenever I'm with him.

I turned away and stared at my matcha ice cream float. I didn't want to get caught. This was only our third hangout. 'I shouldn't be feeling this way,' I told myself repeatedly.

A little background about us: we were Californians on vacation. I chose the motherland because I wanted to escape. He chose the motherland because he wanted to forget. But had we met at another time and place, things probably wouldn't have worked out the way that it did.

The rest of my stay in Saigon was spent with family, family friends, and every now and then, my time was spent with him. We had movie nights, coffee outings, dinners, bar-hopping sprees (where it was mostly him eating and me watching him), and etc. He would pick me up on his moped and we would explore the city as if we were natives ourselves. He shared with me his music collection and even downloaded Beyonce's new album per my request. We talked about life, love, our childhood, and etc.

My mother's friends loved him. My mother and brother liked him. Me? I enjoyed his company. Although the guy is a few years my senior, age was something I did not mind. If anything, I love learning from people who experienced more of life than I have. And indeed, I learned a lot from him. I learned not to judge a book by its cover. I learned that two Alphas can in fact get along and not tear each other's heads out. I learned that the most meaningful relationships are built through time.

I'll tell you this. Meeting new people rarely disappoints me because I enjoy writing about them. Speaking about them. Getting to know them. Meeting new people in another country? Well, that's another story. I met this person at a time when I told myself to shut out my heart and the possibilities of letting someone in. However, this was something that was incredibly difficult for me to do, because whether he/I wanted it or not, my guard was down. His company gave me comfort and security. That's not to say we're not spontaneous because half of our hangouts were. In a way, this person feels like an old, old, old, friend. It was as if we met before, but in fact, we never did.

Either way, some will tell you that what happens in ____ stays in ____. I am fortunate enough to say that I get to take a little piece of summer with me back home because now we're both in California. Turns out, he lives only a couple of blocks away from me. Isn't that insane? I traveled 8,000 miles to meet someone who was practically my next door neighbor. My life is straight out of a novel, I know.

Anyway, he was Summer. Though I'm not sure if I'm ready to say good-bye to Summer just yet, there's a beauty in not knowing what Fall can bring.

'tis the season, my friends.

The Reason Why I Left and Stayed

This was an interesting summer for me. Unlike the previous ones, I have no plans this time around. A couple of projects with a major studio, freelance hosting gigs, and some Downtown Fullerton fun, but aside from that, I had no agenda to follow, appointment to schedule, and days to be filled. Things were up in the air and that was something I knew I had to get used to. Now I didn't want to stress myself out by mapping out my entire future (something I've done many times before) because for once, I genuinely wanted to enjoy the moment. And when I say 'enjoy the moment,' I mean less social media, less picture-taking, and more of appreciating the scenery in its entirety. Eat the food to eat the food. Not just so I can take a photo of it and put it on Instagram. Essentially, all I wanted or better yet, all I needed, was to escape from the world for just a little awhile. So when the opportunity arrived, I took it.

Two days before my twenty-second birthday, my mother gave me a phone-call and told me to pick up three plane tickets to Vietnam. Was I shocked? Yes. But amongst trying to pack and prepare for the big day, the anxiety began to build up. 'Was this the right thing to do?' 'Should I leave now?'

At the time, I did not have an answer, but now that I have the chance to look at things in perspective, I can honestly say that it was one of the best decisions I've made. Yes, my heart is loyal to its California ways, but I'm a person who refuses to forget about her roots and mine just happens to be in the heart of Vietnam---Ho Chi Minh City.

I'll go in more details about my trip another time, but for now, I wanted to illustrate the state I was in prior to my departure.

I was lost. I was tired. I was confused. I was someone who just needed to figure herself out. I wanted answers. I felt like I was always running out of time.

While I don't recommend running away as a solution, I can tell you that there is something so incredibly uplifiting when it comes with traveling to a foreign country. Yes, I've been to Vietnam a couple of times before but somehow, someway, I always manage to come back a changed woman.

Here are some of the things I've learned:

1) Every culture is different. Don't be offended if someone refuses to accept your ideologies and perspectives. 2) There is no 'right' way of doing things. Just do you. 3) Don't judge a book by its cover. Open it. Read it. It will surprise you. 4) Some people don't change. Some people do. 5) Family is important. Separate those who claim to be your family versus those who act like family. 6) Continue to appreciate the small things in your life. For me, it was the rain, the city lights, the street food at 11 AM, the porridge carts, the honks and horns.